Auburn veteran OL Smith makes move to tackle

Senior was 2nd team All-American in 2016

By W. BRIAN HALE, Eagle Sports Writer
Posted 7/13/17

HOOVER — Auburn Tigers offensive tackle Braden Smith has been one of his team’s most versatile linemen entering his fourth season on the Plains.

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Auburn veteran OL Smith makes move to tackle

Senior was 2nd team All-American in 2016

Posted

HOOVER — Auburn Tigers offensive tackle Braden Smith has been one of his team’s most versatile linemen entering his fourth season on the Plains.

The 6-foot-6, 305-pound senior from Olathe, Kan. — starter of 27 consecutive games since 2014 who has received numerous postseason honors — is moving to right tackle for the 2017 season after spending two years at right guard.

Change for Smith, however, is nothing new in his career at Auburn. In 2014 and 2015, he spent time at guard, tackle and even saw limited action at tight end in jumbo packages — displaying his trait of being one of the Tigers’ most versatile offensive linemen.

Although Smith has experience at the tackle position, the switch doesn’t come without its challenges.

“It’s less space in there going against those bigger buys. It’s not as athletic as the defensive end, so basically with tackle you’re dealing with a lot more space and guys that are more athletic, but you’ve got to deal with the transitions between the two in case you ever have to be put in for one or the other,” Smith said. “Basically, you just have to be versatile enough that you’re not a one-sided player. That’s the balance between being gritty and being graceful. That’s just how the game is, you just have to excel at both ends.”

One advantage for Smith and his fellow teammates on offense is the depth Auburn will enjoy going into the season.

Due to a rash of injuries during 2016, several back-ups and first-year players saw playing team, allowing the Tigers to have more options in 2017 should a starter fall to injury.

“It makes us comfortable knowing that we have that kind of depth. We can plug in any player at any position and we have multiple options,” Smith said. “We don’t have to fear that if one guy goes down we don’t have anyone to fill that spot. So definitely having that depth is key.”

Another change Smith and the offensive linemen will experience in 2017 will be in the quarterback they protect, with Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham expected to take over playcalling duties. Smith has been impressed with Stidham’s adaption to his new team and acclamation to the system. “When you come in, you just have to get a feel for things. He came in pretty early just to kind of get a grip of the offense, and he just kind of slowly took it and made a leadership presence,” Smith said. “He was really talking to guys and gaining our trust that way.”